GPL midseason review: WAFA set benchmark as GPL giants stumble
It's been quite a first half to the Ghana Premier League season, with superb goals, coaching turmoil and drama aplenty. Refreshingly, the league currently has a leader that prioritises style, while several domestic giants have found themselves on the rack after a muddled few months.
The first half of the season came to an end on Sunday, with Sogakope-based WAFA sat atop the standings with a two-point advantage over Aduana Stars after a typically thrilling victory over Inter Allies on Sunday.
They won playing the sort of football that has been their hallmark through their transition from Gomoa Fetteh Feyernoord to WAFA; quick passing, plenty pace, and touches to die for. This season they have added steel and a balance that didn't exist in the past.
WAFA have been the dominant side in their home games, winning seven, drawing one and scoring 16 goals while letting in only three.
Home had always been a fortress for them, and this season, they have improved away from home as well. While once upon a time they went 27 away games without a win, this season they've won three of eight and drawn another to boast the second best away record in the division after Aduana Stars.
That record suggests that they could finally make a push for the title, but the club's Danish coach Klaus Rasmussen insists that he's still only focusing on survival.
"Our target is to stay in the league because at the moment no team has enough points to guarantee safety," Rasmussen told KweséESPN.
His star players Majeed Ashimeru, Richmond Lamptey and Togo international Komla Agbeniadan may have other ideas, especially given how some of the traditional giants have struggled. None of that has been more spectacular than the slide of Asante Kotoko.
Ghana's record league champions started the season looking like a team that was destined for greatness under Croatian coach Zdravko Logarusic, but after winning five of their opening seven under him, defeat by bitter rivals Hearts of Oak exposed the side's deficiencies.
Another defeat to Medeama coupled with draws against Inter Allies and Ebusua Dwarfs triggered the Eastern Europe's dismissal, but rather than solve Kotoko's problems, it's only worsened them.
The club are yet to win since Logarusic was sacked, and former Berekum Chelsea boss Steve Pollack has been brought in as his replacement but is yet to prompt any improvement in fortunes.
Kotoko have won only once away from home in seven attempts and managed four wins out of eight games. Fortress Baba Yara has become a place where teams have gone without fear and comfortably managed to hold out and take a point.
While Kotoko have stumbled after that loss to Hearts, the Phobians have flourished under the Scot Frank Nuttall.
They are up to third in the standings having not lost since April 2nd, recording four wins and two draws. The Phobians' revival has largely been inspired by Thomas Abbey, the captain who has contributed seven goals from his position in the heart of the midfield.
By contrast, Ashanti Gold have had a miserable time of things.
They were champions just two seasons ago, but are second from bottom and enduring one of their worst runs after a muddled start to the campaign.
Former Ghana and Wolfsburg captain Charles Akonnor has been brought in to sort things out but that admits it will be tough to restore AshGold to anything approaching their former glory.
Akonnor, like several of his peers, will be hoping that the short break will allow them and their sides to refresh and restrategise before the second half of the campaign, although many neutrals will be hoping that the pause doesn't affect WAFA's momentum as they continue to disrupt the established order in the GPL.